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Making the building safer in the event of an earthquake could cost up to $800,000

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The Newberg Public Safety Building on Third and South Howard streets will undergo an estimated $800,000 project to retrofit the structure for seismic improvements.

The city of Newberg is seeking bids for an estimated $800,000 project to retrofit the public safety building for seismic improvements.

The bidding process opened June 5 and will close June 25. There was also a mandatory pre-bid meeting held last week at City Hall.

Each bidder must complete a contractor's pre-qualification application form on the city's website, and each bidder must state three seismic-related building improvements or retrofit projects they've completed in the past five years, including references.

Sealed bids will be accepted by project manager Paul Chiu of the city's public works department.

An engineer estimate for the project ranges between $600,000 and $800,000.

City Public Works Director Jay Harris said the design work for the building was done over the winter to ensure the building will be seismically reinforced building so it can serve as the emergency operations center for the city in the event of a large earthquake.

"We want to make sure we get someone that is an expert in seismic retrofitting," Harris said.

According to the bid invitation, the project consists of furnishing all materials, labor, equipment and supervision of the project.

This will include roof strengthening, foundation strengthening, restoring portions of the floor, temporary removal of some office equipment and ceiling bracing.

The city chose to update the building first after conducting a city-wide survey two years ago that found that all city buildings are not adequately prepared for a major natural disaster.

City officials have also said with the potential looming for a significant earthquake to hit the Pacific Coast, it's important for the public safety building to be upgraded since it houses emergency dispatch and the city's 9-1-1 center.

Harris said the public safety building needs to remain operational 24/7 and the design ensures that in the event of an earthquake, the workers in the building can immediately return to work.

"Down the road we need to have additional structures that meet that standard," Harris said, including the public works maintenance building and the water treatment plant.

He added that once the bids return, staff will review them and select the lowest, most qualified bid, before going to the City Council with a resolution for adoption on July 15.

After that, the goal would be to have a contractor beginning work in August, depending on their availability.

If, as predicted, a large magnitude earthquake were to hit the Oregon coast for several minutes, it is predicated it would cause significant damage to the city's buildings.

An $815,000 grant from the state helped pay for the design work by WRK Engineers.

Even after work begins the building will remain operational. Most of the work will involve bracing the walls and making improvements to the roof.

Harris said in the event the city doesn't receive a qualified bid in that $815,000 range to meet the grant, they can go back to tweak the bid before sending it back out again.

"The key is staying within the grant funding," he said.

Once that project is done, the city will begin moving forward on other city-owned structures. The public works building can't be retrofitted, city officials said, so it will require an all-out replacement.

Buildings such as the Newberg Public Library and city hall will undergo seismic upgrades further down the road.

This comes after the city began partnering with local churches to prepare for a major natural disaster.

City Manager Joe Hannan began working with the city's 35 churches, as most city residents live close to one, and he's been on point to ensure the churches have the equipment they need to help community members should a disaster hit.

The city has also periodically held disaster preparedness meetings for citizens and local groups to learn more about what to do following a major seismic event.

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